La Digue is one of the more sensuous islands of The Seychelles. It’s the one with the big granite rocks on a white sand beach that was much beloved of nudey-calendar photographers in the 1970s. Whilst I was there I spent many hours fondling those rocks, thinking how many bare buttocks and breasts had been draped over them. I attracted quite a crowd before I was removed.
These days the nudey-calendar seems to be sadly out of vogue and only lives on in twee English villages where the elderly members of the Women’s Institute coyly hide their growlers behind a pleasing floral arrangement. As a twelve year-old peddler of soft porn back in the 1970s I can’t say that my schoolmate clients would have traded their dinner money for one of those.
The joys of nostalgic porn aside, La Digue also has some fairly large insects to contend with.
The cockroach I came across wasn’t quite as big as the mating ones in the featured picture, but not far off. It took me by surprise as I was fishing around in my rucksack for a comforting tube of pile ointment, after a sweaty day’s travelling, when the bugger scuttled across my hand.
The shock of it brought forth the loudest girly-scream that you ever thought possible from a man of some sizeable physical stature. It was also the loudest scream that the Frenchman in the next holiday cabin had ever heard. Indeed it was enough to bring him running over to see who had been murdered.
They must be used to large mutant insects in France as he boldly stuck his hand in the rucksack and coaxed the beast out with no fuss at all. He told us that cockroaches will eat anything and, from the look of it, this one was partial to snacking on leaking tubes of Anusol. The Frenchman managed to simultaneously extract the cockroach, and tell us about its dietary habits, whilst I cowered behind a palm tree, ‘shivering like a dog shitting worms’, as my mother used to say. She had a way with words.
Apart from embarrassing encounters with the local wildlife, La Digue is a pleasant little place. You get to it by ferry from the bigger island of Praslin, which itself has to be reached by a rickety little aeroplane from the airport on the main island of Mahe.
Once you finally get there, one of the big bonuses of La Digue is the complete absence of the petrol engine. This means that most people hire bicycles to get around. If you have been blessed with big bones, and wobbling around on two wheels is likely to result in seriously grazed knees, then the other alternative is to sit in the back of an ox-cart taxi and let the ox do all the hard work.
The main town, where the ferry comes in, is a one street place lined with holiday cabins that are rented out to tourists. There’s a restaurant at one end and the other direction leads down to the famous beach that has the much photographed granite rocks strewn across the shoreline.
As you make your way down to the beach there’s a few giant tortoises to distract your attention. We were lucky enough to see them mating. It is fortunate that they live for two hundred years as it takes them the first century to work up the energy for the act, and then the next hundred years to climb off again. It’s a very memorable sound, the doleful year-long clanging of shell on shell.
If you walk a little further towards the beach there is a big colonial residence with white wooden walls. To continue my 1970s porn tour of the island I can tell you it was used as a filming location for one of the ‘Emanuelle’ smut films starring Sylvia Kristel. This was in the days before porn stars had proper porn names. However, porn was such a rare event in our local cinema she could have called herself Fenella Fish-Minge and we’d have still sneaked into the Odeon whilst nobody was looking.
The house was in the news again in the late 1990s when the professional Margaret Thatcher impersonator Tony Blair invited the press to film him and his family when they stayed there on one of their ‘private’ holidays.
I think I know which crowd I’d rather have bumped in to.